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Arms wide at the top of GS turns

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Why do elite racers spread their arms wide during GS turns?

Here's what I'm talking about. As racers initiate their turns, they lean forward down the hill while inclining their torsos to the inside of the turn, and they spread their arms wide. At the gate, they push those arms together out front and crunch past the gate in an angulated position. Then they repeat.

I am nowhere near skiing like this, but I'm curious why those arms are so far out at the top of the turn. I can imagine three possible reasons for doing this.
1. Wide arms will create some stability against vibrations and wobbling, as in walking a tightrope with arms out to the side. Perhaps the stability at these speeds and with the body in this position is worth any lost speed due to the wind resistance that those arms generate.
2. That wind resistance may be functional. Perhaps the racers are stretching themselves out and allowing their straightened torsos to fall downhill and inside the turn so dramatically that they come near to falling over before their skis catch up. The wind resistance from the arms can slow down that torso movement, but allow it to remain stretched out in its dynamic forward/inside lean. Their skis speed up due to the inclined lengthened torso (the "crack-the-whip" effect), but their shoulders don't crash into the snow. In short, the torso slows down while the skis speed up.
3. Perhaps the skier's visual awareness of those arms helps in identifying and controlling how tilted the torso is. The wide arms act as antennae to help the racer monitor the amount of inside lean.

Am I right? Am I wrong?
post #2 of 15
I think you are looking at this backwards. By that I mean they aren't 'spreading their arms out wide' as much as they are bring their arms IN at the gate to get past on a tight line. Take away the gates and the arms wouldn't come in (they would move forward but not IN) much.

The wider arms help with balance and spatial awareness.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
However, free skiers usually don't ski with their arms wide (HH excepted). This movement must add value when racing that is not needed when free skiing.
Or am I wrong?
post #4 of 15
Skiers who explore extreme edge angles, will ski with very strong arms, open and active. Critical for balancing on the constantly moving fine line, racing or not. Lateral sense is also heightened through the ski poles throughout every turn. (Longer Antennae)

It's interesting to note how active their arms must be in order to look that quiet.
post #5 of 15
Junior racers start this stance as soon as they begin racing. They go from having the pole behind them at a younger age (like all others) to wide to the sides. Observe the way they ski bumps (with those who can). They often have to fight to get their hands forward to pole plant properly.
post #6 of 15

Wide Arms

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post
Why do elite racers spread their arms wide during GS turns?

Here's what I'm talking about. As racers initiate their turns, they lean forward down the hill while inclining their torsos to the inside of the turn, and they spread their arms wide. At the gate, they push those arms together out front and crunch past the gate in an angulated position. Then they repeat.

I am nowhere near skiing like this, but I'm curious why those arms are so far out at the top of the turn. I can imagine three possible reasons for doing this.
1. Wide arms will create some stability against vibrations and wobbling, as in walking a tightrope with arms out to the side. Perhaps the stability at these speeds and with the body in this position is worth any lost speed due to the wind resistance that those arms generate.
2. That wind resistance may be functional. Perhaps the racers are stretching themselves out and allowing their straightened torsos to fall downhill and inside the turn so dramatically that they come near to falling over before their skis catch up. The wind resistance from the arms can slow down that torso movement, but allow it to remain stretched out in its dynamic forward/inside lean. Their skis speed up due to the inclined lengthened torso (the "crack-the-whip" effect), but their shoulders don't crash into the snow. In short, the torso slows down while the skis speed up.
3. Perhaps the skier's visual awareness of those arms helps in identifying and controlling how tilted the torso is. The wide arms act as antennae to help the racer monitor the amount of inside lean.

Am I right? Am I wrong?
1. Right.Wide arms give high speed turns more balance and a more dynamic contact with the snow. Yes racers do this a lot and some skiers do this, when they aren't worried about what they look like and want to engage the hill in a real ready balanced position. Yes some skiers do this at times. See Tyrone Shoelaces videos and you will see this. I've had some PSIAers tell me I look like I'm going to fly with these wide arms. Picked this up racing years ago and still do it. Very solid dynamic style that feels good to me.

2. Nope has nothing to with wide arms - see 1

3. Nope not a factor at all.
post #7 of 15
The arms wide thing is generally between GS turns, and ski racers do it because they go from having legs way out to one side to having legs way out to the other. It facilitates lateral balance (as does a pole touch.)

To simulate it, you could slap on slalom skis, get going at a good speed, and as you come out of one hard turn, drop into the back seat--you'll get launched by the rebound energy of the ski, and your arms will fly out to the sides naturally in a panic/balance response as you fight to figure out a way to keep the waxed side down.

Or you could take whygimf's word for it (he's right) and save yourself the hospital/physical therapy time.
post #8 of 15
You have to watch the arms wide/arms narrow thing, or you get a big up and down thing going (flapping your arms). Early last season I noticed that creeping into my own skiing, so I did a lot of exercises that kept the arms stable while still allowing them to remain fluid.
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaska Mike View Post
You have to watch the arms wide/arms narrow thing, or you get a big up and down thing going (flapping your arms). Early last season I noticed that creeping into my own skiing, so I did a lot of exercises that kept the arms stable while still allowing them to remain fluid.
I am asking this because I used to hold my arms out naturally, and was told by one instructor to stop looking like a bat with my arms out wide. So I worked on getting them forward, but then was told I was too stiff with arms forced forward. Then my race instructor skied with his arms wide, and told us to do whatever came naturally. So I looked at videos and Ron LeMaster pics and saw all the wide arms.

So what exercises worked for you?
post #10 of 15
Typical drills with poles balanced on the wrists or pole-less drills like the "Schlopy Drill" that give your hands something to do. Putting my hands/arms in a "position" just locks me up.

I like to imagine I'm standing in water and I just allow my arms to float up in front of me. That way my shoulders/elbows stay loose and I can react to changing conditions.
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaska Mike View Post
Typical drills with poles balanced on the wrists or pole-less drills like the "Schlopy Drill" that give your hands something to do. Putting my hands/arms in a "position" just locks me up.

I like to imagine I'm standing in water and I just allow my arms to float up in front of me. That way my shoulders/elbows stay loose and I can react to changing conditions.
I like the water metaphor. Have done the poles on the wrists one.

But what's the Schlopy Drill?
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post
But what's the Schlopy Drill?
See this post by Fastman.
post #13 of 15
Good arms can create a new dimension in power and stability. It's not just the hands.

Arms forward tends to shove shoulders back. Liquidfeet, whatever footage you've been watching - Check out what I call the racer's "Angle of Attack." The angle of their spine - shoulders to hips - on the for-aft plane. Simply, good posture, but the chest is always in front of the belly button. This angle varies very little for each athlete. This "angle of attack" is different for each, but they all have it. Watching SL always impresses me with skiers like Raich, Schields, Larson, Rocca - their 'angle' just doesn't change. Active discipline.

Core stability. Good arms will compliment. Arms are 'powered up' from the deltoids.

Get your angle. Then explore how your arms can compliment by playing. Explore your arm range. Up, down, in, out, open, closed - remember the arms work independently of each other. The do not move in unison like carrying a moving box.
post #14 of 15
Thanks trtaylor57 for finding the link.

I think whygimf pretty much summed it up.
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by trtaylor57 View Post
See this post by Fastman.
Yes, I've seen a video of that drill, and want to try it this upcoming season. Thanks for finding it. Can't wait for snow. But it's about 3 1/2 months away, sorry to say, here in the NE. I'll just have to practice in my head.
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